Marriage Policy Triage
I’m blessed to be part of a great student & church network called Unlimited Partnerships at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Each month we meet for collaboration, learning, fellowship, encouragement, etc. UP also seeks to provide links to quality mentors for students serving in churches as well as help with resourcing their jobs in church plants or churches that can’t afford staff. For more info, check out UnlimitedPartnerships.org.
Yesterday we met and discussed what’s sure to become a huge issue in the next 10 years: All things Marriage & Sexuality. Here’s a brief recap of our meeting:
Dr. Ken Schroeder, Pastor of FBC Mandeville, shared with us about Prepare & Enrich. P & E is a great pre-marital assessment tool for couples that helps them get to know strengths & weaknesses & gives counselors & pastors a base line for how to prepare the couple for Christian Marriage. Check out www.prepare-enrich.net for more info & training opportunities.
Whatever you use, have a plan to prepare couples for the big day & success till death do us part. I’ve never had the chance to get trained in Prepare & Enrich, so I use Dennis Rainey’s book Preparing for Marriage as a baseline for pre-marital preparation.
We discussed some of the Must Have’s for Church Marriage Policies unrelated to building use:- Counseling Sessions / A Plan for Preparation for Christian Marriage- To see the plan for the wedding, so that songs utilized concur with the message of Christ in the wedding.
- Counseling Sessions / A Plan for Preparation for Christian Marriage- To see the plan for the wedding, so that songs utilized concur with the message of Christ in the wedding.
- A wedding coordinator may be required as well.
- Some Pastors require Covenant Marriage as state laws allow.
- Marriage policies should define marriage. Here’s the link to a Baptist Press article concerning the need for Updated Marriage Policies with the reality of cultural shifts on this issue. It’s only a matter of time before some Church get sued and/or makes news for refusing a same-sex ceremony. It’s already happened to a nice Christian baker.
Issues: Should I do the wedding? Check out the Joe McKeever’s recent article that deals with these issues & more HERE. Dr. Joe says doing weddings is a faith endeavor because you never know which ones will make it and which won’t. Many weddings I’ve performed exceeded my expectations, while some surprised me with great disfunction. Making the decision to perform a wedding or not can be difficult. As I struggled through these issues as a young pastor I settled on what I wanted to do & here’s my language to prospective couples: “I don’t just do weddings, but I will help you prepare for Christian Marriage. Is that what you want?” If yes, & 90% of the time it is, then I have an opportunity to describe what that looks like & what preparing for that will look like. But here’s some issues our network discussed yesterday in this regard:
– Cohabitation. It’s becoming more and more common. Consensus: each situation should be taken separately. When I was struggling through this question as a young pastor, I wrote a series of blog post working out my position. Find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Some of the links are no longer good, b/c it’s 6 years old, but feel free to use or improve upon what you can.
– Same-Sex Marriage – Church policy should clearly define marriage by your convictions.
– Undocumented Immigrants – Question to consider: Is having their marriage recognized by the state as important as having them right before God?
– Non-Believers – Each situation should be taken separately.
Ideas for Discipleship in a Culture of Cohabitation, Divorce, etc.
– Celebrate Marriage by celebrating anniversaries, weddings, etc.
– Utilize Marriage studies
– Utilize Marriage retreats
– Incarnate at Bridal Showers, presenting a path to Christian Marriage.
– Consider a Free Wedding Weekend. Here’s a link to one a friend of mine is a part of. CLICK HERE for a few links in Outreach Mag concerning this innovation.
Books & Resources Mentioned by our students & pastors:
- Love & Respect
- Sacred Marriage
- Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts
- Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard
- Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler
- Song of Solomon by Tommy Nelson
- Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
- Preparing for Marriage by Dennis Rainey, et al.
- For Wedding Ceremony preparation, Jim Henry’s Pastors Wedding Manual is great.
Our next meeting will be March 25th. Let me know if you have anything to add or subtract. Or if you’d like to be part of our network.